The 1910s started off pretty poorly for Red’s fan (if you’re a fan now, you should be used to it). From 1910 through 1916, the Reds finished no better then fourth place and they only did that one time. On two occasions they finished dead last with 1914 being the worst of those. They lost 94 games, a team record, and won only 60. They wouldn’t lose that many again until 1930.
They were only fractionally better in the 1910s then they were in the 1900s (.479 winning percentage vs. .478), but the franchise made up for it because the Reds won their first World Series in 1919. They finished the season at 96-44 and beat the Chicago White Sox five games to three in the World Series. Of course this one could be given an asterix, because 1919 was the year of the Black Sox scandal.
One interesting story that came out of this decade happened in 1914 (courtesy of the Red Leg Journal, written by Greg Rhodes and John Snyder). Under an agreement with the Baltimore club that played in the International League, the Reds had the right to choose any two players off the roster of the club. The Reds sent a man with little scouting experience, and ended up getting outfielder George Twombly and shortstop Claude Derrick. Twombly batted .222 in 311 at bats over three season with the Reds. An odd Twobly stat is he tripled six times in his career, but never homered or doubled. Derrick came to the plate only six times for the Reds before being traded to the Cubs for first baseman Fritz Mollwitz, who hit a whopping .201 in two seasons with the Reds.
Now the punchline is obviously a player the Reds didn’t choose. This could have been bigger then the Reds keeping Christy Matthewson, because Babe Ruth was one of the players who the Reds could have picked up. That kind of makes the Eric Milton signing a little more pallatable.
The other odd transaction was the Reds trading Christy Matthewson….again. He managed the Reds from 1916 through 1918, and he was part of a trade that landed the Reds Buck Herzog and Red Killefer.
So who were the best and brightest of the teens??!! Let’s take a look.
Catcher – Ivey Wingo came over to the Reds in a trade for backup catcher Mike Gonzalez and was the starter there from 1915 through 1919. While never spectacular, Wingo never had a season with an OPS+ below 95 from 1916 through 1919. The Reds championship season was his best when he hit .273/.336/.371.
First Base – Dick (Doc) Hoblitzel manned first base for the Reds from 1900 through 1914. After a poor start in 1914, he was put on waivers and taken by the Red Sox where he had somewhat of a resurgance and where he ended up on three teams that won the World Series.
For the Reds, he led the team in the 1910s in homeruns (26) and RBIs (324). His best season was 1911, when he had an OPS+ of 115, led the league in at bats (622) and games played (158). Hoblitzel also finished second in the league in hits that year (180) while scoring 81 times and driving in 91.
Second Base – Heine Groh could have finished here, but because he spent most of his time at third base, the nod goes to Dick Egan more by default. Egan was the starting second baseman for the Reds from 1910 through 1912. While he was never a particularly good hitter (career .300 slugging percentage), he was fast on the bases. His best season was 1910, when he stole 41 bases and finished with an OPS+ of 82.
Third Base – Heine Groh came over to the Reds in a trade from the New York Giants in 1913. He was the starting second baseman his first two seasons, then manned the hot corner for the Reds from 1915 through 1919. Many consider Groh to be the best Reds third baseman ever.
1919 was probably his best season. He led the league in OPS (.823), and he was second in runs (79), and OPS+ (150). Groh was very consistent during his years with the Reds and never had an OPS+ below 120.
Shortstop – This was a tough one because the position resembled a revolving door. Buck Herzog gets it more out of longevity because he was the starter there for three years (1914 through 1916). He also managed the team while with the Reds.
1914 was Herzog’s best season with the Reds. He stole 46 bases (second in the league) and hit .281 for the Reds.
Left Field – Bob Bescher was the premiere base stealer for the Reds and he was the Reds starting leftfielder from 1910 through 1913. He led the league in stole bases in every year from 1910 through 1912, and he led the league in runs (120) in 1912. He led the Reds in the 1910s with 265 stolen bases.
Bescher’s best season was 1912. He stole 67 bases, scored 120 times and has an OPS+ of 115. He finished fifth in the MVP voting and he was fourth in walks with 83.
Centerfield – Hall of Famer Edd Roush was one of the premiere hitters for the Reds in the later part of the decade. He won batting titles in 1917 (.341) and 1919 (.321). His best season of the decade was probably 1917, but he had a few other good ones, so it’s a tough call. That year he had an OPS+ of 159 (second in the league) and he finished third in hits with 178. He was also an excellent bunter, and his 256 career sacrafice hits are 35th all time.
Roush is one of the guys who should show up in the next All Decade Team. He’s also the one good thing that came out of all of the Christy Matthewson deals. Roush was part of the deal that brought Mathewson back to the Reds in his final season.
Right Field – Tommy Griffith was the starting rightfielder for the Reds from 1915 through 1918. Unfortunately, he was traded shortly before the 1919 season began, so he missed out on the World Series. Griffith’s best season was his first with the Reds. In 1915, he led the league in games played (160), was third in hitting (.307) and was in the top 10 in most all of the other statistical categories.
Pitcher – George Suggs threw for the Reds from 1910 through 1913 and he led the Reds in wins (62) during the 1910s. While his best season was 1914 after he left Cincinnati, 1910 wasn’t too shabby as he won 20 games and had a 2.40 ERA (121 ERA+). He led the league in walks/nine innings allowed (1.62) and was fourth in the league in strikeout to walk ratio (1.90/1).
Pitcher – Pete Schneider threw for the Reds from 1914 through 1918, and he led the team in strikeouts during the decade with 480. Unfortunately he was cut after a rough 1918 season, and didn’t get a chance to help the Reds win their World Series. 1917 was Scheider’s best season. He went 20-19 with 138 strikeouts (fifth in the league) and he threw in 333 2/3 innings (third in the league).
Pitcher – Ironically, none of the three pitchers listed played on the 1919 team. Fred Toney is the final pitcher, and he led the Reds in ERA during the 1910s with an impressive 2.18 ERA. He pitched for the Reds from 1915 through 1918 before being sold to the New York Giants. His best season was a good one. In 1917, he went 24-16 with a 2.20 ERA. In 1918, he led the league in saves with three.